“I also want to become a Paralympic Champion!”
Dutch sprinter Marlou van Rhijn has helped to launch the first Paralympic youth camp on the Caribbean Island of Aruba.
Alongside the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) of Aruba, the Netherlands NPC and Playable, Paralympic and two time world champion, van Rhijn shared her story with over 40 athletes and 600 students from local schools on Aruba, which has just founded its’ NPC.
Athletes with different impairments participated in athletics, football, swimming and dance over two days of activities on 24-25 August.
“My son was so excited just to be able to participate in sport with other kids”, a local mother of a young boy in a wheelchair said.
Another boy told his dad of his aspirations to compete for his nation having been inspired by van Rhijn: “I also want to become a Paralympic Champion!” said 14 year-old Miquel.
In the days leading up to the event, 16 coaches were also educated about inclusive sports and the Paralympic Movement. The camp helped to ensure that athletes and coaches had the opportunity to meet each other and forge stronger links for the future, including planning to continue training in specific sports.
In the following days, all organisations have held various discussions with relevant government institutions of Aruba to ensure that a strategy is created to continue developing para-sports on the island, and is clear that everyone is highly motivated to ensure this happens.
“The presence of Marlou was so impressive and inspiring for the participants and others,” Nicole Hoevertsz, Secretary General of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for Aruba and IOC member, said.
“This visit was an important step to build upon and to grow the Paralympic movement at Aruba.”
Netherlands NPC and Playable have vowed to continue their support to help Aruba achieve their goal of growing para-sport.